Traveling office hours introduce dean of students

Traveling office hours introduce dean of students

Meghan McBrady

As a student, being able to engage on all levels of the social and academic structures at Grand Valley State University is significant in creating student success.

In order to foster engagement on GVSU’s Allendale and Pew campuses, the Vice Provost of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Eileen Sullivan started traveling office hours, with the first session Tuesday Sept. 27 in the Grand River Room in the Kirkhof Center.

These traveling office hours emphasized an informal setting where the GVSU community could enjoy snacks – including Laker blue punch and an ice cream bar – while talking with Sullivan.

The event acts as a way for Sullivan, who took over Bart Merkel’s position as dean of students on July 1, to interact with students and learn about their Laker experience.

“One thing that I really loved about Grand Valley when I interviewed was because that it is a place that has these big school experiences for students but with high-touch focus on a student’s individual experience in the liberal arts tradition,” Sullivan said.

With members of the GVSU community either sitting or standing from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. during the Tuesday event in the Grand River Room, Sullivan went table-to-table and started a group conversation or talked to a student one-on-one about their experience at GVSU.

“Making sure students have a sense of belonging when they get here to making sure we are responsive to all students needs is met,” she said. “We have kind of a responsibility to work with students and find out the challenges they are facing so we can help address them and be successful for it.”

Emma Hahs, the senior human resources officer for GVSU’s student senate, attended Sullivan’s traveling office hours in support of her.

Hahs said while Sullivan has been at all of the general assembly meetings for student senate, this was the first occasion where Hahs could have a more one-on-one interaction with the dean.

“I do know her well from her coming and speaking to us as the senate,” she said. “Here, she is an ear listening, a familiar face and it’s nice to have a representative to recognize.”

Wesley Wilson, part of the finance committee in GVSU’s student senate, said he appreciated the personal aspect of the traveling office hours and the public interactions.

“It’s cool to have an open student experience, because anybody, not just student senate, can meet with her at any time,” he said. “It also brings a lot more personal aspect to the faculty, where it is not just some person who controls your daily in-and-out, you can actually go up and say ‘hey this is who I am.’ You’re not just a number, you are a face.”

With the traveling office hours extending throughout the school year, Sullivan hopes to meet with more students and student organization so they can get to know who their dean is and feel comfortable to talk to her when there are issues of concern on a GVSU campus.

“It’s kind of a simple goal, but it’s something where it takes everybody falling in the same direction to get there,” Sullivan said. “In the end, part of the goal is to be an advocate for students.”

Traveling office hours include:

– Monday, Oct. 24: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m, Russel H. Kirkhof Center – First Floor

– Tuesday, Nov. 1: 10 a.m. to noon, Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences – First Floor

– Monday, Nov. 28: 10 a.m. to noon, Robert Kleiner Commons

– Tuesday, Nov. 29: 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Richard M. DeVos Center – Building C Starbucks

– Tuesday, Nov. 29: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. L. William Seidman Center – First Floor